“Alexa, search for ‘good employment and corporate practices’ please.”

Original Content

Wanna see how much your city, school district, or state is losing to corporate tax breaks? Here’s how.

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What’s Going on in the Workforce

EPI has a new report out, showing that Amazon warehouses being built in a county don’t generate net new jobs.

Looking to talk to a bunch of Uber drivers in New Jersey? Try Secaucus, where the company just opened a new driver center.

In “jobs I didn’t expect Uber to kill, though I would have, had I thought it through”? Valet parker.

Crazy good history & analysis of the particularly American phenomenon of tipping, by Eater. Special focus on how race influences tipping behavior, both by servers and customers.

I’ve been meaning to catch up with the folks from the Campaign Workers Guild, since they launched a few weeks ago—but Campaign Sick got there first (don’t worry, I’ll still probably do it).

Organizing Theory

Are you using Slack for organizing? Are the topics you’re discussing there confidential? Read this.

Bots, decentralized organizing & more—this post from Mobilisation Lab looks at top trends in online campaigning.

From Partners

ACRE lays out a great case for why Amazon’s HQ2 project looks like it will result in an increase in racial wealth inequity, wherever it lands.

Spendrise just launched a new blog—and the first topic is how people got Dunkin’ Donuts to agree to ditch styrofoam cups. Congrats on both!

Geeking Out

The Vatican is having a hackathon, proving that even 2000-year old institutions need to embrace technology.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

mRelief is a new text-based service to help people in Chicago apply for food stamps, including helping them get a ride to the qualification interview.

The Koch Brothers are funding ads opposing big subsidies for Amazon HQ2. I couldn’t bear to put this in the “From Partners” section, with the other Amazon HQ2 news of today.

Wanna see how much your city is losing to corporate tax breaks? Here’s how.

 

If you’re looking for public money to increase the budget of a social program your members care about, a semi-obscure NGO called the  Government Accounting Standards Bureau (aka GASB) may have just given you one of the tools you need to find it.

Organizers who work on school district, city or state budgets should be able to start figuring out how much that city or state has given away in corporate tax breaks, thanks to GASB’s Statement 77 which requires that, in order to comply with good accounting practices, governments must reveal how much revenue they’ve lost due to tax abatements.  Interestingly, governments have to report not only the revenue lost to their own tax abatements, but also the revenue lost to tax abatements levied by other governments (so school districts, which usually do not have input into property tax abatements, are still required to disclose how much revenue they are losing due to those abatements).

So your school district (which probably doesn’t get to make any of the decisions about economic development that gives tax breaks to corporations, now have to disclose how much revenue they’re losing.

The GASB-77 rule passed in April of 2015, and 2016 government expenditure reports were the first ones subject to it–and Good Jobs First has been doing a banner job of documenting how states and cities are doing at tracking and releasing this info in a meaningful way.

Economic development deals are often shrouded in secrecy–most local or state elected officials do not want to brag about the fact that they hand out millions (or sometimes billions) in tax breaks to big corporations. The recent race for Amazon’s second headquarters has provided an instructive example of this process–for all the buses wrapped by Visit Philly, or products reviewed online by Kansas City’s mayor, for the most part, cities have been not that interested about revealing the nuts & bolts details of their Amazon pitches to the press. If you’re about to give the richest man in the world a bunch of public money (or allow him to stop paying taxes), you might legit fear a group of your constituents showing up with pitchforks and torches.

Here are some tips for an organization or group who wants to use this data in a campaign in your community:

  • If you’re not already working with them, find the EARN affiliate in your state (don’t know who they are? search our directory by filtering for the network “EARN” and your state). These folks help marry civic activism with expert budget analysis. It’s possible that they’ve already taken a look at the GASB 77 reporting that’s come out of the major cities & states–if not, they may be able to partner with you to do so.
  • Is there a local reporter that works on city or state budget issues who might be interested in this information? Send them a respectful email and ask them if they know about this new rule.
  • Be clear that what the rule says is that the government has to reveal the total dollar amount they are losing to tax abatements–but they don’t have to disclose which companies they’re giving  it to. That could, of course, be the basis for a local campaign (we’re giving away $XXX million and they won’t tell us who’s benefiting–let’s make them!).
  • In your public communications about the lost revenue, make sure that you are framing this as a choice the government is making–to fund X while not funding Y. Governments will often frame these kinds of deals as being about growth of jobs in the region–ask them how many jobs have been created, and cost out the dollar value of each job.
  • Read these great materials from Good Jobs First, to familiarize yourself with the language that economic developers use.
  • And of course, if you can, kick down a financial contribution to your local EARN affiliate, or to Good Jobs First (or both!)

As of right now, states and cities are not required to disclose WHICH corporations are getting specific tax breaks, according to the GASB rules. Of course, this is something that your group could use as an organizing hook for future work with city council people or state legislators–why don’t we get to see what companies you’re propping up with our money? In addition, it can be a way to talk to local small businesses about why they should be engaged in the fight–as they usually don’t benefit from these kinds of development deals.

 

 

“We must make a preemptive strike to replace the job system with a life system.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“We must make a preemptive strike to replace the job system with a life system.” This Black History Month, learn more about solidarity economy pioneer James Boggs.

New Jersey’s new governor says ISPs that do business with the state have to follow net neutrality rules for all their customers in the state.

Until reading this piece, I didn’t fully understand how my credit card rewards are directly coming from a system that charges poor people more than rich ones.

Organizing Theory

In Philly & want to learn more about data journalism? Come to this talk next Monday night.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

You’d think that the platform economy would at least be able to get rid of gender pay inequity—if the app is setting the pay rate, eliminating the need for any individual worker to negotiate. But these researchers looked at the records of a million ride share drivers, and found that a gender pay gap still exists (though it’s much smaller than the one in the general public).

Price Waterhouse Cooper looks at potential automation in 29 countries, and thinks that jobs mainly held by women will get hit first, but jobs mainly held by men will be hit harder, long-term.

A driverless car company just got permission to start operating a ride-sharing service in Arizona.

Taxi drivers in Seoul formed a worker-owned coop.

Airbnb claims to have a semi-unionized workforce, after the UAW wins elections in their contracted-to-Bon Appetit company cafeterias.

“Are you now or have you ever been…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Are you now or have you ever been a political campaign staffer? If so, the launch of the Campaign Workers Guild may interest you.

“Shepherds and the sheep.” Fascinating long read on union activism inside Russia’s auto industry.

Uber wants drivers to take a break after 12 hours of driving (not explained—how to keep people from just switching to drive for Lyft, during their mandated 6-hour break).

Geeking Out

Bloomberg invites you to play a game as the owner of a retail mall—can you turn it around? Warning: turn off your sound first, if you’re not supposed to be playing games at work.

You’ve really gotta love those folks from Boston Dynamics

Reputation, reputation, reputation

An excellent piece about portable reputation for workers, and some of the ways we might make it happen.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Airbnb announces a partnership with three banks that will consider Airbnb income as income when refinancing a house.

Interesting look at the social media-driven update to the Green Book—which helped African Americans travel safely during the Jim Crow era.

From Partners

Congrats to Cornell’s ILR on the launch of their new online publication, Unionist!

The Superb Owl and the Modern Worker

Those of us who live in the Philly area experienced an historic victory this week. This seems to have required a new holiday, which will be celebrated on Thursday. Also, it made Hack the Union a little light this week. We’ll be back to our regular snark after another round of “Fly, Eagles, Fly.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Amazon wants to patent a wristband for warehouse employees, reminding me of one of the very first pictures ever in this newsletter (above)…

Whoo boy. Ford has applied for a patent for a self-driving police car, that can chase you down and give you a ticket. That’s some Robocop-level crazy, right there.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The Tech Workers Coalition is standing up for software engineers, fired when they tried to organize a union.

NY Mag, on a new study showing that AirBnb adds an average $380 in rent for New Yorkers.